A US government report has demanded increased spending and focus on telecommunication and networking practices if the country is to avoid what it calls a possible electronic Pearl Harbor, reports our sister newsletter Network Briefing. The Defence Department panel described current practices and assumptions regarding the nation’s telecommunications and computing infrastructure as ingredients in a recipe for a national security disaster. The report continues: We have built our economy and our military on a technology foundation that we do not control and, at least at the fine detail level, we do not understand. The report’s findings, although specifically looking at government systems, relate to industry practices too, said Duane Andrews, the task force chairman. A large international bank has exactly the same problems and challenges as the Defense Department he told the Wall Street Journal. Moreover, the American telecommunications, electric power, banking and transportation industries are now vulnerable to anyone seeking to attack the US without confronting its military, the report warns. It calls for $3bn of additional spending and changes in legislation over the next five years to combat any attack targeting the country’s electronic systems. By the year 2005, it predicts that attacks on US information systems by terrorist groups, organized criminals and foreign espionage agencies are likely to be widespread. The US military has 2.1m computers and 10,000 local-area networks, and according to Andrews, the systems have been subjected to attacks that have been very sophisticated and massive over the past two years. The panel, which was appointed by the Defence Science Board, also said the Pentagon should seek legal authority to launch counter attacks against computer hackers. Andrews said he would like to see the law changed to allow the Pentagon to respond by injecting the attackers’ computers with a polymorphic virus that wipes out the system, and takes it down for weeks.